MOSCOW, Russia -- Kristina Mladenovic of France reached the second round of the VTB Kremlin Cup for the fifth straight year after a 6-1, 6-3 victory over 19-year-old Russian wild card Anna Kalinskaya on Tuesday.
Mladenovic and Kalinskaya battled in the opening round in Moscow two years ago as well, and Mladenovic triumphed in straight sets on that occasion. It was much of the same this year, as the Frenchwoman emerged victorious after just 68 minutes to extend her lead in the head-to-head record to 2-0.
"It was a good match for me today," Mladenovic said to the press, after the match. "It’s always tricky when you play the local wild card, especially I played [Kalinskaya] two years ago, exactly here, in the same tournament where she got a wild card."
"I saw she had a great couple of matches and wins recently, especially at the US Open," Mladenovic continued. "I actually watched her match against Julia Goerges. I was expecting a tough one, I really tried to be solid from the first to the last point, and I think it was a great performance overall for me."
Former Top 10 player Mladenovic had 24 winners and only 15 unforced errors during the match, and won a wonderful 82 percent of points when she got her first serve into play. Meanwhile, World No.146 Kalinskaya was far less consistent on the day, with her 16 winners being negated by 26 unforced errors.
— WTA (@WTA) October 16, 2018
Despite making the second round for five straight years, World No.42 Mladenovic has yet to reach the quarterfinals in Moscow, and she will face No.8 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia in the second round in her attempt to do so for the first time. Kontaveit, who survived a challenging battle with Russian wild card Anastasia Potapova in the opening round on Monday, is 3-0 against Mladenovic.
"I’m happy with my level in this first round," said Mladenovic. "I have a tough second round, I play Anett, I played her in Tokyo [last month] and I lost to her. I know she has amazing form right now, she had a really good Asian swing, especially reaching the final in Wuhan, so it says a lot on her form. I’m expecting a very tough one."
Kalinskaya got through her opening service, saving two break points in the six-deuce game en route to a hold for 1-1. But after that protracted tussle, Mladenovic went on a hot streak. The Frenchwoman barreled to net to polish off points whenever she could, winning 80 percent of points on those occasions, and broke Kalinskaya twice to garner a 5-1 lead.
Mladenovic finally had a difficult service game when serving for the set, after three easy service holds earlier in the set. Kalinskaya held four break points in the game, the fourth attained via a lovely lob. But Mladenovic erased that chance with a winning forehand pass to reach a fourth deuce. Mladenovic closed out the set four points later, after a netted return by the Russian.
— WTA (@WTA) October 16, 2018
In the second set, Mladenovic held at love in her first two service games while breaking Kalinskaya twice in the first five games, as the French player opened up a dominant 4-1 lead.
However, the Russian teenager put up a valiant effort at the end of the match, going for broke with aggressive forehands and returns when Mladenovic served for the match at 5-2. Mladenovic then double faulted on break point, and Kalinskaya was thusly rewarded with her first service break of the day and clawed back to 5-3.
But the Russian’s fight was all for naught as Mladenovic refused to panic, and the Frenchwoman quickly found herself at triple match point on Kalinskaya’s serve in the subsequent game. The wild card double faulted on the first match point to hand over the win to her more experienced opponent.